Based near the Rocky Mountain’s in Calgary, Alberta, Dean, coincidentally, was celebrating his birthday that week so winning Photo of the Week was an added surprise. I sat down with Dean and asked him about his winning image and how did he find his way into the world of photography.
So how did Dean’s photography journey began? The photographed revealed that, “2003 was the year of exploration of a new media for me. (Lord Of The Rings) Return of the King just came out in theatres and having watched the making of the last two movies I was intrigued in colour processing. Peter Jackson revolutionized how we view movies with digital colour pallets. His story telling was enhanced because of it. Adobe Photoshop became affordable and had the tool set I was looking for to explore this area of colour and storytelling through a single image.
Buying my first digital camera allowed me to jump into the world of photography and experience a creative work flow that had endless potential. The learning curve was steep but I quickly became acquainted with a small tool set that made my photos stand apart from other photographers. I found that conceptual and digital photo composite fine art best suit my interest and my style.”
Dean’s unique artistic style reflects his family’s heritage from his mother’s side. You see, his grandfather was a vaudeville magician and his brother carries on the tradition as the photographer explained “My interest in fashion photography harks back to the lifestyle of the vaudeville era – a time when people were drawn to sideshows, midways and vaudeville shows by the smells of candy floss and corn dogs and the chance to see oddities and performances that fuelled the imagination.
My grandfather owned such a show and when he retired all of his equipment to his backyard my brother, cousins and I would play on the old midway rides. The magic of that era led my brother to develop his own magic and illusion show, which fascinated me and led to my own interest in the era. The advent of the digital age made it easier to access the tools, like Photoshop, that allowed me to develop my own approach to photography. I would classify my art as conceptual with a focus on character and storytelling. You will find whimsy and a touch of dark humour in my work.”
Growing up with these oddities around him, he found the pieces to create his style through observation and study of his brother’s art of sideshow. Dean’s work embodies a sense of whimsy, humor, and a quirkiness to his photography which is fused with an essense that not all is right in this world as seen in Dean’s winning image. So what inspired this piece, depicting a sultry woman in a shawl standing her ground beside to a tiger in a parched desert? The photographer mentioned that “I had a hair stylist take a liking to my photography and we went into discussions on doing a photo shoot with the theme of summer, spring, fall, and winter. The picture show cased here was of our summer theme.”
To create this shoot Dean has provided a list of the specific equipment he used to created this shoot that includes:
Camera: 5D Mark 2
Lighting: Elinchrom ranger pack, Elinchrom EL- Skyport
Lighting: 100 cm soft box
Lens: Canon 24 mm prime
Photoshop CS Extended
For more information about Dean McClelland’s work you can find his work submitted to Flickr and 500px. Just plug his name in their search bar and you will find him :). Ending the interview, Dean shared, as a takeaway for our readers, what he thought were the most important elements that a photographer should know to become successful in fashion photography, these being, “Know your client well, create a photo that reflects the client’s objectives, and enjoy what you do.”.